Larry “Goose” Garrison
Larry "Goose" Garrison outside White Water Tavern.
, the longtime Little Rock bar owner known for rebuilding White Water Tavern
three times after three separate fires nearly destroyed it, died Saturday, Sept. 20
. He was 63.
“People who don't know me call me Larry,” Garrison told the Times in 2011 in an oral history of White Water Tavern
. “I got my nickname from a goose hunting experience. I killed some tame geese on a farm. I'm not proud of it — it was scoundrelous.”
Garrison owned White Water Tavern from 1979 until 2007, when he began leasing the building to current owners Matt White and Sean Hughes. Even after he wasn’t involved in the day-to-day of the business, he remained “the heart and soul of the place and our best buddy,” White said.
In 1977, Garrison and David Corriveau opened Slick Willy’s World of Entertainment in Little Rock Union Station. It advertised “pool, shuffleboard, snooker, pinball, darts, chess, foosball, suds, checkers, miniature golf, air hockey, backgammon” and more in a 1977 Arkansas Times
Garrison sold his interest in Slick Willy’s in 1979 and purchased a stake in White Water Tavern. (A few years later, Corriveau and James “Buster” Corley, owner of the bar Buster’s, next door to Slick Willy’s, founded Dave & Buster’s in Dallas). A month after Garrison bought into White Water Tavern, arsonist Ron O’Neal burned it down. It took nearly two years to rebuild and reopen, during which time Garrison bought out his partners. In 1982, O’Neal burned the bar down again. Later in the ’90s, a drunk motorcyclist ran into the back of the bar and busted a gas line, which sparked yet another fire that shut the bar for a long stretch.
Garrison was beloved in the Arkansas music community. He championed bands from The Cate Brothers to Burger to The Salty Dogs. In the early 2000s, he opened his stage to local musicians of all genres who didn’t get opportunities to play at other venues.
“I thought they were the weirdest and most fucked up people in the world until I got to know them, and shit, I loved them. I loved them
,” he said in the 2011 interview of the musicians who started playing the bar during that era.
“We are going to keep going in a way that would make him proud and are grateful to have a good relationship with his kind family,” White said. “No one should notice any changes in the foreseeable future, aside from the sad reality of not having Goose around to make absolutely everything a lot more fun.”
A funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 25, at Roller-Owens Funeral Home Chapel, 5509 JFK Blvd. in North Little Rock. A memorial concert is planned for Oct. 11 at White Water Tavern.